Should bullied students be encouraged to physically retaliate?

Children should never have to suffer the traumatic effects of bullying at school. School is for learning and is a place where children should feel safe. If this is not the case then we, as adults, are not doing enough about the problem. The responsibility should not fall on the shoulders of children that are bullied. They, themselves, should not have to fight physically against the perpetrators. Not only would this not be a solution, it would make matters worse for everyone.

Violence leads to more violence. This is true for both children and adults alike. What are we teaching our kids if we encourage them to retaliate?. That it is right to take the law into our own hands. Isn’t there enough violence and vengeance in the world already? A civilized society has organizations and law enforcement agencies to deal with those who threaten and physically abuse others.

Our child should be taught to have the courage, not to fight back, but to report acts of bullying. Aggressive bullies need to be dealt with in a proper way. If another student has physically assaulted our child or has threatened them with violence in school, or anywhere, it is the obligation of the parent to report it to the school and to the police.

There is a culture in society today that you don’t tell on anyone. That there is something shameful in “snitching” to the teacher or to the cops. This attitude should change. It is the offender who should be ashamed. It is they who have done the wrong thing. If they are in trouble it is nobody else’s fault but their own.

Parents should teach their children to have the courage to ignore threats and intimidation. To stand up for themselves, do what is right and report the bully. If everyone did that, the problem would soon come to the surface and the school would then be obliged to act. If the school ignores the problem, perhaps because of insufficient resources, then parents must make it an issue in the community. Not only our kids but everyone is affected when a school allows violence to continue.

Another course of action would be to take, or at least threaten to take, legal action against either the school or the parents of the bully. Again, if every victim or parent were to do this perhaps we would have fewer bullies. It might make them or their parents think about doing something positive about the problem. The violent bully needs help. Simply doing to them what they are doing to you won’t help them to see the need for change.

Retaliation leads to more retaliation. Wars, feuds and gang violence are fueled by retaliation. The child who takes retaliatory measures might find that they themselves are accused of wrongdoing. If the victim retaliates and fights back perhaps they may win the fight. But then the victim could be seen as the aggressor.

The bullying problem in our schools is shocking. It should receive just as much attention as child abuse. What is the point of society fighting child abuse in the home if our child, after leaving for school to get a decent education, is abused there? It makes little difference that other children are doing the abusing. Children have the right to have a safe learning environment and it is not their job to fight the bullies.